It used to be that digital privacy was something only discussed by IT teams and paranoid tech people. Nowadays, however, most of us have a solid understanding of not only what digital privacy is, but why it’s so important and how it impacts us all.
For organizations, digital privacy becomes even more important. You’re not only managing your privacy now but the privacy of everyone within your organization.
In this post, we’re going to cover the ins and outs of organizational privacy so that you can better keep yourself and your constituents safe–whether you’re running a business, community soccer team, or online fan club.
What is organizational privacy?
As touched upon, organizational privacy refers to the set of practices you use to maintain the privacy of your organization. This is especially important in digital spaces, like social media or email chains, as it’s very easy for data to be viewed and shared without the data owner’s knowledge or consent.
Organizations, communities, and clubs owe it to their members to keep their communications as private as possible, as well as to let their members know how private these communications are.
Keeping data private is also important to keep its value. When data is shared in a disorganized way, the integrity of the data can be compromised. This can be an issue if data plays a key role in how your group functions (for instance, if your group holds a vote or a database, poor digital privacy could make this data less reliable).
Why privacy is important to your organization
There are several reasons why privacy is important within an organization. The first and most obvious is that privacy matters to the members of your organization. Everyone has a right to privacy and to manage their data. If you aren’t able to hold up these values, then you risk upsetting your members, if not turning them away completely.
Second reason is the fact that digital privacy is becoming a key concern among governing bodies. All around the world, policies and regulations are being put in place to set boundaries on when and how data can be collected and what can and should be done with it after its collection.
Groups that don’t establish any digital privacy practices today will struggle to adapt to them in the future. Embracing digital privacy sooner rather than later will help you keep your organization secure, compliant, and member-friendly.
Should all groups really be concerned with digital privacy?
As with any security concern, it’s easy to brush it off as something for other organizations to take into consideration as opposed to yours. You may be thinking that your group is too small, too unofficial, or too new to need to worry about digital privacy.
The truth is, however, that everyone should prioritize digital privacy. Breaches can come from anywhere, and generally, they come from the most obvious place: Your members!
That said, there are differences in how each group should structure its approach to ensuring privacy. And if you are a smaller, newer, less-than-official community, then your approach to digital privacy can likely be simpler and less rooted in expensive, time-consuming practices.
The best practices for maintaining digital privacy and security in your organization
That brings us to the best practices for maintaining digital privacy within your organization. Below are practices that any group, regardless of size, should work to implement. Larger groups may want to find privacy tools and platforms for keeping their members protected, while smaller groups can likely get by with being responsible and encouraging responsibility among their members.
Choose a communication channel that’s encrypted by default
Encryption is something that should be familiar to most of us by now. It scrambles your data so that anyone who accesses it without permission (i.e., hacking) won’t be able to read or use the data.
Since most of us have no clue how to implement encryption ourselves, choosing a communication channel that’s already encrypted is a great option. For example, Gaggle Mail’s group email is encrypted, so any intercepted messages won’t be readable to the interceptor. What you talk about with your group stays with your group.
Use trusted cloud-based solutions
Any group that communicates over the internet is likely to rely on some sort of cloud service. That could be a cloud service that stores materials and data for your organization, stores and facilitates your communications, and so on.
Cloud services are convenient and powerful, but they can also be vulnerable since they’re always online. For this reason, most organizations will want to choose trusted cloud-based solutions. That means large-scale cloud services offered by groups like Amazon and Google, or privacy-centric services. Gaggle Mail is hosted on Google’s GCP and Amazon’s AWS, providing a high level of security to our users.
Educate your community on digital privacy
By far, one of the most important things you can do to keep your community safe and private is to educate them on digital privacy. By helping your members spot phishing attempts and other malicious privacy breaches, you can reduce the chances that they’ll become a victim.
This is especially important as most people have a limited or vague understanding of how to stay safe when communicating online. Being clear about what information shouldn’t be shared and how to spot phishing attempts will play a key role in maintaining your organization’s privacy.
Be transparent about your organization’s privacy policies and practices
Lastly, it’s important to be transparent about your organization’s privacy policies. There are two reasons for this:
Firstly, it builds trust among your community and ensures that everyone is aware of what data you are/aren’t collecting and why. As we discussed earlier, your group must be proactive about protecting your members’ privacy, and transparency is a great way to do so.
Secondly and more practically, transparency can prevent privacy risks. If everyone in your group knows that you aren’t going to ask for sensitive information, will only communicate with them from a certain email, etc., then you can make it harder for a breach in privacy to occur.